Borussia Dortmund striker Youssoufa Moukoko has admitted that he considering quitting football upon making his first-team breakthrough at the age of 16 last season, describing the media hype and intensity as ‘stressful’ and difficult to handle.
Moukoko joined Dortmund’s academy ranks in 2016 and was played under-17 football at 13 and under-19 football at 14. Two months before turning 15, he became the youngest ever player to appear in the UEFA Youth League and began training with Dortmund’s first-team not long after.
Bundesliga rules prevent individuals under the age of 16 from playing in the competition, down from the previous minimum age of 17, and Moukoko made his debut the day his 16th birthday in November. Little more than two weeks later he became the youngest ever Champions League player and soon after that the Bundesliga’s youngest ever scorer.
But the pressure and intensity got to the teenager and Moukoko has now revealed that he thought about walking away altogether in an attempt to get away from the glaring spotlight. In the end, games actually became his escape.
"In the beginning, the reports were very stressful for me, especially when my age was discussed. I didn't want to do this to myself any more. I wanted to quit, but my coach helped me a lot, he supported me. I could forget everything on the pitch,” Moukoko told Waz in Germany.
The young forward still won’t turn 17 until November and is now keen to get more games under his belt after injury brought a premature end to last season.
“I want to accumulate more minutes than in my first season, score more goals, make more assists. I always want to be there when the team needs me,” he said.
“Of course it is going to be difficult. But I have to be confident in my abilities. I need playing time. I'm sure I will have more playing time.”